‘Immense’ opportunities to be outlined at Gordie Howe Bridge forum

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Windsor Star/Doug Schmidt

With Canada’s biggest construction project about to launch, the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation wants to make sure as much of the work, and as many of the jobs as possible, go to the host community.

To help local companies cash in on the building of the $2.1-billion Gordie Howe International Bridge, WEEDC is hosting an information session June 25 to provide details and a heads-up to employers in the area. Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt will be the keynote speaker at the event that starts at 8 a.m. and includes a question-and-answer session.

“The sheer scope and the size of this … it will probably be the single biggest Canadian infrastructure project in our lifetime,” said WEEDC president and CEO Sandra Pupatello.

And whether your company is involved in building, materials handling and transportation, services, food or accommodation, “the opportunities are immense,” she said. Something learned from the current $1.4-billion Herb Gray Parkway project, Pupatello added, was getting local businesses informed and involved as early as possible.

Even once the bridge is built, there will be local business opportunities for the project’s ongoing operations and maintenance. “The long-term prospects are massive,” said Pupatello.

Last week, the tender was issued to complete full site preparation in Windsor by the end of 2016. With land acquisition underway on the Michigan side, the goal remains to have the new crossing operational in 2020.

Pupatello said local businesses might not know the names of the large conglomerates expected to eventually bid on the contracts, including for the estimated $1-billion bridge construction itself, but they will be on the hunt for local suppliers and other companies to participate in any winning bid.

“The use of local companies is usually a tremendous advantage — the more local content they have, the more competitive they become,” said Pupatello.

The 3.5-hour June 25 forun — Building our Local Opportunity— will be at the Fogolar Furlan and will cover the building and operational phases of the new crossing and outline the anticipated construction and workforce requirements.